How to Claim on Your Car Insurance ?

verified information


Information verified by  Adeline Harmant

Our articles are written by experts in their fields (finance, trading, insurance etc.) whose signatures you will see at the beginning and at the end of each article. They are also systematically reviewed and corrected before each publication, and updated regularly.

Discover the methodology
Alexandre Desoutter updated on October 26, 2020

According to some insurance experts, one driver suffers an average 4 car accidents in a lifetime - 1 every 18 years. Indeed, such things not only happen to the others. That is why it is always a good thing to be prepared when you'll have to make your car insurance claim.

What are the things you should do and those you should avoid when claiming on your car insurance ?

This is what we explain throughout this handy guide. Take a look!

How do car insurance claims work?

You will have to file a car insurance claims when involved into a trafic accident with your personal vehicle. A claim is basically submitted in order to be refunded by the insurer of the costs of the damages linked with this incident undergone by the car owner. To be entitled to a refund, you'll have to bring enough proofs to your insurer so the responsibilities between all parties can be established. You will therefore have to make an accurate report of what happened, collect the other involved people's details and insurance information, and forward everything to your insurer.

On which cases can I claim on my car insurance?

Even if every situation of trafic accident is unique, we can basically distinguish 4 major cases in which car insurance claims can be submitted:

Total lossIn some cases, it happens that your car can not be fixed. Your insurer can also consider that the fixing costs are too high in comparison with the vehicle value. This case is known as 'write-off', and requires a settlement between the insurer and the policyholder.
Personal injuryWhen somebody gets injured in the car accident, and suffers corporal damages.
TheftWhen your car seems to be stolen, you have to report it first to the police. Then your insurer will make his own investigations, and depending on the results you will get a total or a partial refund.
Physical damage (to the car)When your vehicle has suffered physical damages, your insurer can assume totally or partially the cost of the repairing work. Many insurance companies prefer that you go to a specific mechanic or body shop that they work with.
Cases in which to claim on a car insurance

How long after a car accident can you claim on your insurance?

There is no established rule regarding the time you have to file your claim after an accident occurs. Indeed, every insurer has its own rule. But in general, we recommend you to file your claim as soon as possible, at least within the 24 hours following the accident. The faster you will file your claim, the faster it will be settled.

What information do I need to claim on my car insurance?

In the process of filing your car insurance claims, you'll need to have at hand some information to complete the process. You will basically need:

  • Your insurance policy number
  • The registration numbers of all the cars involved in the accident
  • All the information concerning people involved in the accident : personal contact details and insurance details
  • If some people has witnessed the incident, their contact information, so that your insurance can contact them back.

The car accident insurance claims do’s

When you are faced with a car accident, this is the different steps you should follow in the process of filing your claim:

  • First things first: if medical assistance has to be called for you or other people involved, call for it before any other thing
  • File your claim as soon as possible. The great majority impose deadlines, after which you will not be entitled anymore to submit a claim. That is why it is crucial to act swiftly
  • Document everything about the accident: it is very important to make an accurate report of all the damages you and your car may have suffered. Take pictures with your smartphone, or take the contact details of any witness that could make a testimony of what happened
  • Be honest with your insurance provider, for he could turn any lie against you to deny you the refund you could be entitled to
  • Always keep a record of the different steps of your claiming process, in case you have to appeal later to the Ombudsman.

The car accident insurance claims don’ts

Sometimes, when we find ourselves into an accident, we can be under shock, and not behave properly. That is why one should bear in mind a few things in case such things happen. If you are to submit a car insurance claim, don't:

  • Accept immediate settlement with other parties just after the accident happens
  • Overstate to your insurer what has happened. He could turn that against you
  • Sign waiver or any other document coming from the other parties' insurance providers
  • Advance the repair costs before your insurance adjustor evaluates the damages. By doing so, your insurer could deny you refund.
  • Claim on your car insurance when the damages are minor. This could unnecessarily increase your premium.

What happens after I file my car insurance claim?

After your report your accident to your insurer, along with all the information and details mentioned above, you will go through the following process:

  • First, after your report the accident, your car insurance provider will ask you if you want to file a claim or not
  • If you decide to file a car claim, then you will have to fill in the car claim form of your insurance company, with all the details of the accident and the parties involved, and return it. Always keep a copy of it, in case it gets lost on the way
  • If your car has suffered damages in the incident, your insurance provider will send an assessor to estimate the costs of repair. In most cases, your insurer will then provide you with a list of its garage partners, where you can send your car to be repaired.
  • Following the assessor estimates, your insurer can decide to write off your car. This means that the costs of repair are too high. In this case, your insurer will propose you a sum, equal to the actual value of your car (not the value of when you bought it).
  • If you are unsatisfied of the amount proposed by your insurer, you can appeal. If the appeal do not allow to reach a settlement, you should contact the Financial Ombudsman Service, which will help you find an agreement with your car insurance.

Do I always have to claim on my car insurance policy if I’m in an accident?

You do not necessarily need to claim on your car insurance every time you're involved in a car accident. Indeed, there can be at least 3 reasons for which - in some cases - you shouldn't do so:

  • If the suffered damages are minor, it might be worth paying the repairing work yourself. Indeed, it may cost you less than the excess fee that your insurer will ask you to pay if you submit a claim
  • A submitted claim will be always kept in your insurance record. That may increase the cost of your premium, and make you lose money in the end
  • A car insurance claim is always a long process, in which one has to put a lot of energy to get a refund. If spending that time and energy does not worth it, avoid submitting a claim.

How long does a car insurance claim take to settle in the UK?

It is impossible to define a precise time in which a car insurance claim can be settled. Indeed, a car insurance claim settlement depends on many factors, that can make it vary. However, if you think you are entitled to a refund, you should expect long delays from your insurer. Being paid back is always longer than paying.

What to do after a car accident that’s not my fault?

When you find yourself in a 'no-fault' accident situation - meaning you are not responsible for what happened, you will have to file a 'third-party' claim with the other party's insurer. It is not rare that reluctant drivers are not straightforward in reporting an accident in which they are responsible to their insurer. That's why you should make yourself sure that's actually done, contacting the other party's insurance, and ensuring the claim has been filed.

After you are sure that the claim has been filed, you will have to defend your version, if it is not the same as the one exposed by the other party. In case of misunderstanding, you can call for your insurance support.

What happens when someone claims against my car insurance?

In some cases, when you are involved in an accident, it can happen that another party claims on your car insurance for compensation. If you accept that the accident is your responsibility, this 'third party claim' made against you will be handled by your insurance company, and there'll no more to do for you.

If you think the accident was not your fault, there will be a 'liability dispute', that both insurance providers will settle between themselves. Only very few cases end up in court, when both insurers can not agree. If you are held responsible for the accident, it is likely that your car insurance premium will increase.

How much will my car insurance go up after a claim in the UK?

It is usual for car insurance providers to increase their policyholders' premiums if they have claims. However, if you find yourself into a third-party claim, meaning you are not at fault, that should have no impact on your premium.

However, if you are held responsible for an accident, your car insurance provider will penalize you by increasing your premium. In the UK, it is estimated that for an at-fault accident that involves corporal injury, one policyholder's rates could increase between 20% and 40%.

How can I check my car insurance claim history?

There are basically 2 ways to check your car insurance claim history. First, you can always ask your actual car insurance provider a track of all your past claims. This is by far the easiest way if you have long been affiliated to the same car insurance company.

If that it not the case, you might want to consult the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (Cue), which is a national database in which are recorded more than 13 million UK motor claim cases. The CUE can be contact from Monday to Friday (9am - 5pm), at the following number: 0 844 481 5875.


How many car insurance claims go to court?

There are very few car insurance claims that end up going to court. It happens only when both parties find themselves incapable of solving their dispute. In this case, the court have to force one of the 2 parties to compensate the other, depending on its interpretation of the facts.

Can named drivers be entitled to a no-claims bonus?

Named drivers are additional drivers that car owners can add to their policy in order to make them eligible to insurance in case of an accident occurs while they're driving. However, named drivers can't be entitled to no-claims bonus, for this privilege only benefits the actual owner of the car.

What is a car insurance no claim discount?

A no-claims bonus (NCB), sometimes called 'no-claims discount', basically takes into account the number of years in which you haven’t filed a claim on your car insurance policy. Usually, if you have 5 years or more without submitting a claim, you should be entitled to having a no-claim discount on your premium.

Did you like this article?
Alexandre Desoutter Redactor in chief

Alexandre Desoutter has been working as editor-in-chief and head of press relations at HelloSafe since June 2020. A graduate of Sciences Po Grenoble, he worked as a journalist for several years in French media, and continues to collaborate as a as a contributor to several publications. In this sense, his role leads him to carry out steering and support work with all HelloSafe editors and contributors so that the editorial line defined by the company is fully respected. and declined through the texts published daily on our platforms. As such, Alexandre is responsible for implementing and maintaining the strictest journalistic standards within the HelloSafe editorial staff, in order to guarantee the most accurate, up-to-date information on our platforms. and expert as possible. Alexandre has in particular undertaken for two years now the implementation of a system of systematic double-checking of all the articles published within the HelloSafe ecosystem, able to guarantee the highest quality of information.